Deuteronomy 20* Exhortation and proclamation respecting those who went to war.(1-9) Peace to be offered, What cities were to be devoted.(10-20)1-9 In the wars wherein Israel engaged according to the will ofGod, they might expect the Divine assistance. The Lord was to betheir only confidence. In these respects they were types of theChristian's warfare. Those unwilling to fight, must be sentaway. The unwillingness might arise from a man's outwardcondition. God would not be served by men forced against theirwill. Thy people shall be willing, #Ps 110:3|. In running theChristian race, and fighting the good fight of faith, we mustlay aside all that would make us unwilling. If a man'sunwillingness rose from weakness and fear, he had leave toreturn from the war. The reason here given is, lest hisbrethren's heart fail as well as his heart. We must take heedthat we fear not with the fear of them that are afraid, #Isa8:12|. 10-12 The Israelites are here directed about the nations onwhom they made war. Let this show God's grace in dealing withsinners. He proclaims peace, and beseeches them to bereconciled. Let it also show us our duty in dealing with ourbrethren. Whoever are for war, we must be for peace. Of thecities given to Israel, none of their inhabitants must be left.Since it could not be expected that they should be cured oftheir idolatry, they would hurt Israel. These regulations arenot the rules of our conduct, but Christ's law of love. Thehorrors of war must fill the feeling heart with anguish uponevery recollection; and are proofs of the wickedness of man, thepower of Satan, and the just vengeance of God, who thus scourgesa guilty world. But how dreadful their case who are engaged inunequal conflict with their Maker, who will not submit to renderhim the easy tribute of worship and praise! Certain ruin awaitsthem. Let neither the number nor the power of the enemies of oursouls dismay us; nor let even our own weakness cause us totremble or to faint. The Lord will save us; but in this war letnone engage whose hearts are fond of the world, or afraid of thecross and the conflict. Care is here taken that in besiegingcities the fruit-trees should not be destroyed. God is a betterfriend to man than he is to himself; and God's law consults ourinterests and comforts; while our own appetites and passions,which we indulge, are enemies to our welfare. Many of the Divineprecepts restrain us from destroying that which is for our lifeand food. The Jews understand this as forbidding all wilfulwaste upon any account whatsoever. Every creature of God isgood; as nothing is to be refused, so nothing is to be abused.We may live to want what we carelessly waste.
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